St Francis F.C.
|Full name||St Francis Football Club|
John Hyland Park|
League of Ireland First Division|
Leinster Senior League
Athletic Union League
St Francis Football Club is an Irish association football club originally based in The Liberties. They played in the League of Ireland First Division from 1996–97 until 2000–01. They currently play in the Leinster Senior League and operate a number of schoolboy and women's teams. The club wear green and white hooped shirts.
St Francis was founded by John Hyland and friends in 1958 initially as a schoolboy club. In 1968, the first adult side was introduced as St Francis joined the Athletic Union League, winning division 2A in their first season. In their second season St Francis won the FAI Junior Cup, the highest honour for junior sides. The club progressed into the intermediate ranks and soon become one of the top teams at that grade, winning the Leinster Senior League four times. In 1989–90 St Francis became the first non-League of Ireland side to reach an FAI Cup Final in over 50 years before finally losing to Bray Wanderers. Their fairytale story, combined with the final moving to Lansdowne Road saw a crowd of over 33,000 witness the historic final.
League of Ireland years
St Francis continued to be one of the top Leinster Senior League sides and when St. James's Gate were expelled from the League of Ireland First Division, St Francis were invited to apply along with two other clubs to take their place. The clubs first senior game was a drab drawn tie against Longford Town in the League of Ireland Cup. Their first League of Ireland game ended in a 4–0 defeat to Waterford United on 11 October 1996.
St Francis struggled to make an impact in the League of Ireland First Division. Both their traditional Liberties home and their adopted home of Clondalkin are areas which St Patrick's Athletic claim many fans from, and St Francis's crowds were small, even by First Division standards. In their five seasons in the league, St Francis never finished out of the bottom three. After finishing bottom for the third time in the 2000–01, director Alan Duncan approached St. Patrick's Athletic with a view to merging. St Pats managing director Pat Dolan was receptive to the idea and two weeks before the 2001–02 season, St Francis withdrew from the league. A hurriedly arranged joint press conference was called to announce the arrival of the Dublin Saints after the proposed merger was revealed on a website. St. Pats fans were outraged as their club announced plans to call the club St Patrick's Athletic including St Francis F.C.. In a meeting with St Francis supporters, Duncan spoke of his wish that the new club be officially renamed the Dublin Saints. As the season progressed, the merger talks broke down and the merger never materialised. Pats did use John Hyland Park for some friendlies and for underage games, but the ground was never in their possession as it was held in trust for use by St Francis only.
After the League of Ireland
St Francis did not field an adult team in 2001–02. However they regrouped and subsequently re-entered the Leinster Senior League.
John Hyland Park
- Leinster Senior League
- Winners: 1989–90, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1995–96: 4
- FAI Junior Cup
- Winners:1968–69, 1982–83: 2
- FAI Cup
- Runners up: 1989–90: 1
- O'Riordan, Neil (7 February 1998). "Mahon's last link with the cup glory days". The Sun. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
- "Club History (St Francis Football Club)". St Francis F.C. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- Ball, Peter (12 May 1990). "The Irish miracle of St Francis". The Times. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
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- "Club History (St Francis Football Club)". Stfrancisfc.ie. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
- Walsh, Denis (22 September 1996). "Progress, but it may well cost St Francis dear". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
- Reid, Robert (4 July 2001). "Saints alive". The Sun. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
- O'Riordan, Neil (26 June 1998). "Boss Pete quits after 18 years". The Sun. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
- "FAI Junior Cup Winners". stadium.aviva.ie. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- Mark Herbert, Donie Butler (1994–95). FAI Yearbook & Diary 1995. Dublin: Sportsworld Ltd.